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You need to remove a door to replace it or lay flooring. You try to undo the screws from the hinges but nope, they won't budge!
Over time, the slots in screw heads get filled with old paint as multiple coats build up. Screws can also rust up in damp environments. The result? Almost impossible to remove screws. Read on to find out how you can sort out the problem.
Use the tip of a flat blade screwdriver to clear all the paint off the top of the screw heads, exposing the slots. Tip: If you're right handed, hold the handle of the screwdriver with your right hand hand and the blade with your left hand. Your left hand acts as a restraint, so the screwdriver is less likely to slip, damaging paintwork.
It's often older type wood screws that get seized in timber. Generally these have a slotted head, unlike a Phillips or posidriv head screw.
The blade width should be approximately the same diameter as the head of the screw and the blade thickness should be roughly the same width as the slot. If you use a blade that doesn't fit, it's easy to damage the tip of the blade or round the edge of the slot, making removal even more difficult.
Try tightening the screws first. Sometimes this helps to break a screw's grip on the timber.
The slot in a screw head is rectangular. If you don't use enough pressure behind the screwdriver, pushing into the head, the tip of the blade will likely rise out of the slot and slip, rounding off the edge. This is more likely if the slots were damaged when the screws were removed a couple of times before.
If you're removing the screws from a door hinge, it's a little easier to produce a lot of force on the screwdriver by getting your back against the opposite door jamb. Get down on your hunkers and use your two hands to push as tight as you on the screwdriver, while turning it.
Often the reason screws are difficult to remove is because they've rusted up, roughening the threads and increasing their hold on the timber. If you still have difficulty removing them, sometimes it helps to hit the edge of the slot, near the perimeter, with a screwdriver or punch and hammer. The impact can release their grip on the timber.
If the screw has a round head, you can deepen the slot or square it up with a hacksaw. If it's a Phillips screw and the head is damaged, try cutting a new slot with a hacksaw or cutting disk on a Dremel type tool.
With a Dremel rotary tool you can grind, sand, carve, cut, slot, router, hollow, engrave, polish, sharpen and debur (remove ragged edges from material) lots of materials such as metal, plastic, wood, ceramic and glass. It's suitable for craftwork, DIY, and repair and can be used where a larger power tool such as an angle grinder or power saw would be unsuitable due to its sheer size.
This is a mid level 120 volt corded Dremel (model 3000) with a power rating of 120 watts (1.2 amp motor). It comes in a case with 28 accessories including sanding disks, wire brushes, grinding burrs and cutting wheels. Additional cutting disks are available from Dremel and other sellers on Amazon.
As an alternative to using a screwdriver, you can use a vice grips (locking pliers) to undo screws. The advantage of this tool is that it gives a lot of leverage (also called torque or turning force), much greater than a screwdriver can achieve. To use a vice grips, you first need to undo the screw so that it's a little proud of the timber surface. Use a steel file to make parallel flats on opposite edges of the screw head. This makes it less likely for the grips to turn on the head.
This tool, available from Amazon is a screwdriver which is fitted with replaceable bits. As you hit the back of the screwdriver with a hammer, the impact pushes the bit hard into the slot so it doesn't climb out on any worn slot edges. The bit is also simultaneously twisted. The twisting force is much greater than what you could produce by hand.
Sometimes it's just plain impossible to remove a screw, so what are the alternatives?
© 2019 Eugene Brennan
rosina matruglio on March 24, 2020:
excellent..very well written
Sourav Rana on January 26, 2020:
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Finally I can say one thing: Splendid!